Wolfmans Howlings

A programmers Blog about Programming solutions and a few other issues

OpenMoko Freerunner after a few weeks

Posted by Jim Morris on Tue Jul 22 13:20:08 -0700 2008

Well I have had this thing for a few weeks now, and I have burned a lot of hours playing with it :) (Wish I could bill someone for those hours it would have paid for the phone 4 times over!)

I started with 2007.2 the built in image, and upgraded it initially with dfu-util, then with opkg update && opkg upgrade.

I installed a bunch of things and tweaked it to death (literally).

I got Jalimo java installed and working, and wrote the simple SWT app which worked nicely. The only change to the instructions are you need to add -force-depends to the opkg command.

As reported in my other blog article I got WIFI/WPA2 working, and finally got GPRS working.

I have not tried to pair with a bluetooth headset yet, although got far enough to see that the device could be seen using the scan command.

I played with all the varieties of on screen keyboards available, but really couldn't use any of them as they are so small, and my eyes are not that good anymore. I have seen some promising mentions of works in progress for keyboards, but the ones in the Qtopia distribution are the best, plus they have handwriting recognition which is a little fussy but looks like it can be trained.

The GPS problems were fixed by an amazing community and OpenMoko effort, which I have never seen before. There is a S/W fix, and a H/W fix which I suspect most people will not be able to do, soldering surface mount components is not for the faint of heart!

I spent several hours trying to build the OpenEmbedded and the MokoMakefile development environments, so I could start to contribute, but have still not been able to get them to finish building the native toolchain needed to build any of the apps.

I get several errors, some of which I found workarounds to by googling but eventually hit dead ends in both cases which I could not solve and have not been reported or solved by the community. I am using a stock KUbuntu 8.08 Hardy Heron desktop, which should be pretty mainstream, so I don't know what is wrong. The pre built toolchain OpenMoko provides for building apps does work however, but you can't build soft keyboards, or system components that route (at least I couldn't find a way to do it). I'll continue to hammer away at MokoMakefile and see if I can eventually get it going, of course I'll post my findings to the Wiki or dev mailing list if I succeed.

If someone could provide a VMPlayer image of a working OE or Mokomakefile environment that would help a lot of us. (Trolltech/Qtopia do provide exactly that for their development tools).

So after several opkg upgrades and tweaks, I finally killed my highly customized rootfs, X would no longer boot, sound was dead etc etc.

I tried to backup the image using these instructions, but always got an error halfway through, I suspect my flash image of rootfs may have been corrupted. Anyway I lost all that work :(

I tried flashing ASU, but it seems too much a work in progress more so than 2007.8.

Then I tried Qtopia now this is much more to my liking. The interface is clean, intuitive and seems to work pretty well. There are still a few rough edges which Trolltech seem to be taking care of, but it mostly works pretty well. The on screen input methods (which there are several of) are very good, even the keyboard has a nice touch where it zooms into the keys you are touching. It also has the tiny tiny QWERTY keyboard if you prefer that style and your eyes still work.

The downside is of course you lose access to all the applications currently under development for the GTK based 2007.2, but Qtopia does have a growing number of applications, and of course you can write your own.

I am going to experiment a little with trying to run GTK based apps under Qtopia, I know I can do that on my KDE (aka QT) desktop, so why not under Qtopia? I'll update this if I get it to work.

UPDATE Oh ok the reason you can't do that is that Qtopia is not running X Windows, so running GTK is not an option, bummer. I suppose you could render GTK into a QT canvas or something but that is more work than I am prepared to do at the moment.

The current show stoppers for me, which stops me being able to use this a phone are...

  • Nasty buzzing noise on both ends of the call
  • Bluetooth pairing with a headset not easily available.

I'm sure people are working on these issues, and I wait patiently for them to get fixed so I can dump my aging Motorola V600. I'd actually try to pitch in myself but I can't get the development environment to work!

Oh well guess I better get back to my paying job :)

Posted in Openmoko,Linux  |  Tags openmoko,freerunner  |  5 comments


  1. janus said on Fri Jul 25 12:23:41 -0700 2008
    Great blog! I am new to the linux enviornment and new to the openmoko/neo freerunner. Have you done any development using qemu and freerunner gtk+ image?

  2. wolfmanjm said on Fri Jul 25 13:34:22 -0700 2008
    I haven't tried qemu, I build on my linux box and run it on the FR directly.

    I finally got Mokomakefile working, have not been able to hget Openembedded to work though.
  3. janus said on Fri Jul 25 20:11:02 -0700 2008
    I've got qemu working. It loads the qtopia image in the emulator. But it looks nothing like the FR pics. Know of anyone who wants to sell a FR for cheap?

  4. TreviƱo said on Mon Jul 28 18:04:44 -0700 2008
    The gsm buzzing could be solved editing the alsa scenarios.

    Decreasing the 'Mono Playback Volume' in /usr/share/openmoko/scenarios/gsmhandset.state should help (I've set it to 65).
  5. qasim ali khawaja said on Mon Sep 08 00:16:48 -0700 2008
    Hey dude;

      I'm new to openmoko but not for SWT i worked alot in this ithe thing is i'm still waiting for the freerunners to ship at ma door..(1 week left)... and i've to bear it...

    is there any way i can start developing application on ma desktop pc usinf jalimo... if u can assist i'll be greatful to you?

    Looking for ur response

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